Shorties #16

What better way to wrap up the shortest month than with a Shorties post? THERE IS NO BETTER WAY. Let's get to it!

#1: Hours: One evening, James picked this 2013 Paul Walker movie for us to watch, stretched out his legs (thus pinning me to the couch), and promptly fell asleep. So I was the only one who had to suffer through this. Not to speak ill of the dead, but it's unlikely that Paul Walker would have gone on to win an Oscar. I'm told he was fine in mindless action flicks, but when an entire drama rests on his shoulders (he's alone for about 97% of the screen time here), he...doesn't shine. His character's wife dies in childbirth, and while still at the hospital, the worst of Hurricane Katrina strikes. He refuses to evacuate with everyone else, because his infant daughter needs to stay in the incubator, so it's soon just him and the baby, trying to stave off the elements and looters. It's not a terrible premise, but Walker was just not strong enough an actor to carry this. (Grade: C)

#2: Don Jon: Good actors have their creative valleys, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorites, but I'm not quite sure what to make of this 2013 movie, his writing/directing debut. He also stars in it as Jon, a Jersey meathead who spends his evenings banging girls from the bar, and his days jerking it to internet porn. He agrees to knock off the porn when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), but finds it difficult to keep his promise. The movie also likens Jon's unrealistic expectations of women with Barbara's unrealistic expectations, which she has acquired from the romantic comedies she's obsessed with. Jon wants to make it work with her, but is also intrigued by the more straight-forward older woman in one of his classes (Julianne Moore). It's not a bad movie, but I have some difficulty about its message regarding women. Though I'm a fan of JGL, I almost don't want to know what his point is here, because I might just not be as big a fan after I heard it. (Grade: B-)

#3: Troop Beverly Hills: I've heard this 1989 movie bandied around the internet as a cult favorite, but had never seen it before now. It's your basic, '80s, overcoming-your-adversities-via-pluck-and-a-montage-or-two romp, which is a genre I happen to enjoy heartily. Shelly Long is widely derided for leaving Cheers for movies, but she's made some good ones, and this fun little jaunt fits nicely among them. Long plays a spoiled Californian shopaholic who is in the midst of a separation, and attempts to distract herself and prove herself by leading her daughter's pseudo-Girl Scout troop. Hijinx ensue. This movie is a hotbed of before-they-were-famous sightings. Shelley Morrison! Carla Gugino! Tori Spelling! Kellie Martin! Jenny Lewis! That...neighbor girl from the show about VICKI the robot! Though Troop Beverly Hills will never land on the AFI Top 100, it was certainly a fun way to spend the evening. (Grade: B+)

#4: A to Z: I like Cristin Milioti a lot, and after she was treated so shamefully by How I Met Your Mother, I was happy to see her chosen to star in another show. Unfortunately, it was for this slightly underbaked show that got cancelled after its '14-'15 debut season. It was a romantic comedy starring her, Ben Feldman (of Mad Men fame), that British lady from that one episode of Black Mirror, and one of the fall season's 1250 fat, bearded sidekicks. Sorry, that's a little unfair to Henry Zebrowski. It's not his fault he was written to be such an annoying loser, and to his credit, he's the sole fat, bearded sidekick that had an attractive charm to him. There were some other promising secondary characters, from the wry, sarcastic IT team to the selfish, uncaring boss of Andrew's company, but there just wasn't enough there to sustain the show. Unlike my beloved Trophy Wife, I'm not rending my clothes over this one not getting a second season. (Grade: B-)

#5: Trivia Crack: I've mentioned before that trivia apps can be pretty darned fun, so when the internet started exploding over a new one called Trivia Crack, I happily jumped on board. And speaking of bored... This is not a well-designed game. All the questions are user-submitted, so a lot of them are either laughably easy or ridiculously esoteric. It imposes time restrictions between turns and is lousy with intrusive ads starring Kate Upton's boobs. It was diverting enough for a couple of weeks, but after that, I lost interest quickly. It might just hold the record for the app that has spent the shortest amount of time on my phone. (Grade: C-)


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